Analyzing Tyler Herro, Daniel Gafford, and Keldon Johnson
February 28, 2019
by Alan Lu
I decided to take the time to watch Kentucky play against Arkansas in an SEC basketball game that was played on February 26th. It was a tightly contested match, in which Arkansas took the early lead and had control for most of the way, but Kentucky was able to rally back to get the victory. Tyler Herro played very well as he really excelled as a floor spacer and scorer on offense, and he scored 27 points in his team’s win over Arkansas. Here are my thoughts on how various prospects fared in this game, as well as how their skills may translate to the NBA.
Kentucky’s freshman guard, Tyler Herro had a very good showing as he excelled as a shooter and scorer in this game, as he made 9 of 10 field goals, and made 5 threes to help get his team the victory. Herro did a terrific job of knocking down jumpers to help his team when he was on the floor. He would run quickly off the ball to make quick, open spot-up threes, and he also can make them in transition. He has a quick release that enables him to get his shot off easily, and he has plenty of range on his shot. He also is a deft ball handler that can use a variety of dribble moves to knock down pull-up jumpers from inside the arc.
He also showed a knack for scoring in transition. Herro would run the floor to get the ball, and he would score on smooth drives to the basket on the break. On one play, he was able to score on a dunk in transition. In addition, he also would draw free throws, and he did a tremendous job of making them when he was at the foul line. Also, he displayed good playmaking skills. Herro is an unselfish player that possesses good court vision, and he would tend to find the open man to set up plenty of scoring chances for his teammates. He showed a knack for passing off the dribble to get his teammates the ball, and he also threw a solid, no-look drop off pass another time. He can kick the ball out to shooters, and he also can find cutters on the move. But sometimes he can throw loopy passes, which can end up getting deflected and intercepted on occasion.
Plus, he also was able to get his fair share of defensive boards, as he was able to leap up to haul them in at times. In addition, he showed off adequate defensive skills. Herro really competed defensively, and he was active as a help defender when he was on the court. He managed to block a three-point shot to force a miss, and he also rotated to tie up an opposing ball handler to get a steal due to possessing good motor and instincts. He also would contest jumpers to force some misses.
However, sometimes he would be late on his rotations and get caught ball watching, which would cause him to allow opponents to score on three-point shots. Other times, he had some trouble guarding his man on the ball, as he would get beat on moves, which would lead him to occasionally commit fouls and allow scores. In general, Tyler Herro put forth a solid performance, as he really excelled at making plays on offense, as his ability to make shots and pass the basketball helped his team get the win. He will still need to improve his position defense, but he competes on that end of the floor, and he shot the ball really well in his team’s win against Arkansas. Right now, he could be a good value pick for a team in the late first round range of the upcoming draft.
Arkansas’ 6-11 sophomore center, Daniel Gafford had an up and down game in his team’s loss to Kentucky. He struggled in the first half with foul trouble, but he was able to make some solid defensive plays in the second half. He is an athletic big man that can make hustle plays on both ends of the floor, but he struggled with some baffling misses around the hoop and fouls overall in this contest.
Gafford did a very good job of scoring on hustle plays around the basket. He showed a knack for scoring on rolls to the rim as well as off of put backs. Gafford was able to score on a high-flying dunk off of a roll, and he also flew in to score on a tip slam another time. He has very good strength to score on put backs, though he missed a tip shot once as he did not play under control on that instance. He also ran the floor to get the ball in transition, but he missed on a wild reverse layup in traffic. However, he will need to improve his ability to score in the post. For the positives, he was able to catch a high entry pass to score on a powerful dunk, and he also was open inside to get a score on a separate play. However, he tended to miss awkwardly in traffic as he had a tendency to force up shots, and he had a couple of them blocked by his opponents.
Plus, he also displayed decent playmaking skills. Though Gafford primarily looked to score, he did show some passing skills, as he can pass out of the post to set up scoring chances for his teammates. He also would set screens to help his teammates get open for shots, and roll off of them afterwards. But he also had a couple of passes deflected, as he can sometimes struggle to get them cleanly to his teammates when opponents guard them tightly.
He also did a very good job of rebounding the basketball. Gafford especially showed a penchant for grabbing offensive rebounds in this game, as he was able to haul in a couple of them in traffic, and he would tend to provide his team with second chance points afterwards. But sometimes, he would forget to block out, which would cause him to allow opponents to grab offensive rebounds.
Also, he played adequate defense. Gafford showed a knack for blocking shots, as he would swat them ferociously off of drives to his team to force misses, and he also rotated to poke a ball away to help his team get a steal another time. He also would contest some jumpers to force misses, but sometimes, he would struggle to guard his man on the ball as he would get beat off the dribble, which would cause him to commit fouls and allow scores. Other times, he would over-help in the paint, and also be late on his rotations.
In summary, Daniel Gafford had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to Kentucky, but he made some solid plays in this game, especially on the defensive end. He is a high-motor player that can provide energy to his team on both ends of the floor, but he also took some questionable shots, and ended up in foul trouble defensively. He is an athletic shot blocker that could project to be a rim protector in the NBA, and he could end up being selected by a team in the late first round range of the upcoming draft.
Kentucky’s 6-6 freshman swingman, Keldon Johnson did not have his best game as he struggled to consistently knock down shots, especially in the first half, but he was able to get into a groove late in the game, and he made some good plays with the ball in his hands and on the defensive end in his team’s win over Arkansas. He showed a knack for scoring on hustle plays in this game. He was able to run off of a screen to get the ball on a curl cut, and he was able to score on a floater. He also was able to draw free throws after going up strong off of offensive rebounds and drives in transition, but he also would force up shots, which would lead to misses in traffic.
Also, he was able to use a pivot to score on a turnaround jumper in the post. Johnson struggled more to score on half-court drives, but he showed that he can score on floaters, and he did better when he would look to score from the high post rather than start his move all the way out on the perimeter. However, Johnson may lack an elite first step off the dribble, as he would have trouble consistently getting all the way to the rim when driving from further out. He also attempted a couple of spot-up jumpers, but he missed them in this contest. Though he drew a good number of free throws on offense, he had trouble consistently knocking them down when he was at the foul line.
Plus, he also displayed adequate playmaking skills. Johnson is an unselfish player that will look to find the open man, and he can find teammates on the move to set up scores for them. He does a good job of passing out of the post, as well as throwing interior passes, and he is a pinpoint passer that can consistently get them the basketball. However, he also committed plenty of turnovers as well. He tended to play too recklessly at times, as he would be prone to losing the ball on wild drives to the hoop, and he also traveled another time due to taking too many steps. He also did a fairly good job of rebounding the basketball. Johnson possesses a very good motor, as he would often crash the glass to get offensive boards to help his team. He also managed to chip in to get some defensive rebounds. Also, he flew in to almost get a solid defensive rebound once, but he was instead called for committing an over the back foul.
Also, he played adequate defense. Johnson is an active and alert defender that will actively challenge shots, and he does a good job of doing so when he is in position. Johnson managed to stay in front of a ball handler to block a pull-up mid-range jumper to force a miss, and he would actively contest mid-range shots to force misses. Plus, he will apply considerable ball pressure to make it difficult on opposing ball handlers, and he was able to chase an opponent off the three-point line to get his man to miss a shot off the dribble. However, Johnson also had a tendency to sag too far off of his man and give up too much space to his opponents, which would cause him to allow opponents to score on jumpers. Another time, he over-rotated and ended up getting beat off the dribble, which caused his teammate to rotate to commit a foul on a drive.
Overall, Keldon Johnson had his ups and downs throughout his team’s win against Arkansas, and while he struggled early, he consistently played hard, and he was able to play well down the stretch to help his team get the victory. Johnson will need to improve his ability to consistently make shots on offense, but he is an athletic, high-motor swingman that could end up getting drafted by an NBA team in the mid first round range on draft day.
Kentucky’s 6-8 sophomore forward, P.J. Washington quietly had a good game, as he was able to make solid plays on both ends of the floor to help his team get the victory over Arkansas. Washington excelled at attacking the basket to garner scores. He was able to intercept a pass in the backcourt to get a steal, and he managed to score on an athletic, turnaround dunk in transition. He also showed a knack for drawing hoards of free throws on aggressive drives from the high post as well as in the post. Plus, he managed to score on a strong jump hook in the post. However, Washington also would miss on jump hooks, and sometimes he would force up shots that would lead to misses in traffic. He also took a couple of open threes, but missed both times from beyond the arc. Though he went to the free throw line often in this game, he struggled to consistently make his free throws when he was at the foul line.
He also displayed fairly average playmaking skills. Though he looked to score often, Washington can pass off the dribble to set up scoring chances for his teammates. On the downside, his lone turnover came when he was called for traveling when looking to score from the high post. He also was able to get his fair share of boards, as he would leap up to get some defensive rebounds against Arkansas. However, he had a tendency to forget to box out his man, which would allow opponents to grab offensive rebounds, and he also committed an over the back foul when going for an offensive board another time.
Washington also played terrific defense in this game. He did a great job of getting blocks and steals, as he would play passing lanes to get steals and deflections, and he also would swat shots off of drives to force misses. He would actively contest shots to force misses, and he also applied heavy ball pressure onto an opposing ball handler and deflected a pass that helped his team force a shot clock violation.
Overall, P.J. Washington had a fairly good showing in his team’s win over Arkansas. Though he didn’t take many shots overall or stand out from a box score perspective, he excelled as an inside scorer and defender, and his ability to defend multiple positions could make him an intriguing prospect in the 2019 draft. He could project to be an energetic 3 and D type of role player in the NBA, and he could be a good value pick for a team in the late first to the second round range on draft day.
Kentucky’s freshman point guard, Ashton Hagans put forth an adequate performance in his team’s win against Arkansas. While he didn’t stand out or take many shots, he was able to drive to the hoop in transition to get scores and free throws, and he also ran quickly off the ball to make an open corner three. But sometimes he would struggle to score in traffic, as he had a couple of his shots blocked.
He also displayed adequate playmaking skills. Hagans had a knack for kicking the ball out to shooters to set up scores, and he is a speedy playmaker that can quickly get into the lane. On the other hand, he also struggled to protect the basketball. He also would tend to get the ball poked away when handling it, and he also would throw loopy passes, as one was picked off by a defender once.
He also played fairly good defense. Hagans is a pesky, agile defender that will apply heavy ball pressure, and he can poke balls away to get steals to make things tough on opposing ball handlers. He is also rangy enough to run in to deflect passes, and he will contest threes to force misses. However, sometimes he can be caught ball watching, which can lead him to be late on his rotations, and to allow opponents to score on jumpers. Other times, he may be too aggressive on the defensive end, as he can be prone to be called for reaching fouls when trying to go for steals.
Overall, Ashton Hagans had a fine game, as he quietly made solid plays to help his team get the victory on this day. He is a table setter that will play tenacious defense, and he could end up being a good value pick in the second round for an NBA team, as he may project to be a quality backup point guard at the next level.
Kentucky’s sophomore big man, Nick Richards played well, as he excelled at scoring on hustle plays, and he also did a very good job of rebounding and defending in the paint to help his team defensively. Richards would swat shots around the basket to force misses, and he would actively contest shots to shore up his team’s interior defense.
However, he also would commit some turnovers due to carelessness. Sometimes he would be out of position when going for boards, which would cause him to commit fouls on put backs. Though he defended fairly well, sometimes he would be late on his rotations, and he would sometimes be slow to get back on defense, which would cause his team to give up points in transition. Overall, Richards had a good game, and he could project to be a good value pick for a team in the second round, as a high-motor, rim-running big man that could help a team’s bench in the NBA.
Arkansas’ 6-5 freshman guard, Isaiah Joe also played well, especially in the first half, in his team’s loss to Kentucky. In this game, he did a very good job of shooting and scoring the basketball. He showed a knack for making threes, as he would run fast off the ball to get open, and he also made a pull-up three after using a quick step back. He also has a quick release, which enables him to easily get his shot off.
He also threw a lob pass to set up an alley-oop dunk for a teammate, and he throws solid interior passes that enabled him to get some assists. However, defensively he may need to improve on this end. For the positives, Joe would poke balls away to help his team force turnovers. However, he would tend to over-help in the paint and leave his man open, and he would often be late to rotate back, which would cause him to allow opponents to score on numerous three-point shots. Overall, Joe played well, and he is a skilled shooter that can space the floor, and he could be a prospect to watch in the future.